Tom Friedman, the walrus-mustachio’d NY Times columnist and pundit, that frequent guest of the void of Charlie Rose’s studio, the author of the World is Flat, The Olive Branch and the Lexus, and countless – if my friend Alfredo Garcia IV is to be believed – howlers of rhetoric, reminded me in his article this Sunday of an acute talent of his. He has the ability to distill the political payload of a complex topic fit it in a single construct of a subject, verb, and a concluding period.
It has been a long established problem with the communications plans of the Democrats that, unlike the Republicans, their nuanced messages simply do not distill succinctly to a bumper-sticker platform. Want to know what Republicans (pace amici, I differentiate between Republicans and Conservatives) stand for? Try this out:
Traditional Values. Low Taxes. Small Government. Strong military.
Guiding, succinct, and can fit easily with room to spare on the back of your Tahoe. Try that with a Democratic stance. Take, say, the particularly thorny issue of gay marriage. The Republican formulation is “TRADITIONAL VALUES,” leaving it pretty clear that their platform is a “No” on that one. But what’s the Democratic stance? “Well, we note that the objective fact is that marriage is a ceremony performed on top of a civil recognition of the granting of a marriage license, so in fact no one really has a marriage. You technically have a civil union whose paperwork is signed by an officiant with a state-recognized right so to do, but who also, in many cases, is a representative of a religious order…”. Undoubtedly someone who considers the matter could be led to the same point of view, but who’s, honestly, going to stay awake that long or fight their gut response long enough to allow their mind to be changed? If the R’s can put their platform on a bumper sticker, the D’s would have to print it on police tape and wrap it around their Prius nine times.
Ergo, match made in heaven. Tom could give the D’s the succinctness to, as the rhetorical scholar Foghorn J. Leghorn once said, “Spit it out, Son!”
[caption id=“attachment_1929” align=“aligncenter” width=“200” caption=“\"Look it\’s simple: Civil unions granted by states, Marriages granted by religious institutions. Church and State separate. Easy\”“][/caption]
Case in point, in the article dated 23 January 2010, Friedman gives these one-liners:
“ What the country needs most now is not more government stimulus, but more stimulation. We need to get millions of American kids, not just the geniuses, excited about innovation and entrepreneurship again.
Obama should have made 2009: the year of innovation, the year of making our pie bigger, the year of “Start-Up America.”
The best way to counter the Tea Party movement, which is all about stopping things, is with an Innovation Movement, which is all about starting things. (bene scriptu!)
Without inventing more new products and services that make people more productive, healthier or entertained — that we can sell around the world — we’ll never be able to afford the health care our people need, let alone pay off our debts.
You want more good jobs, spawn more Steve Jobs.
It helps that I agree with Friendman’s conclusion: Grow America by business and communities organizing together to create commercial successes. It’s pretty much the pat Silicon Valley liberal / independent software hacker mantra.